The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

Guardian: A statement by the Academy of Motion Pictures said "that PwC – formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm that has been used by the Academy to handle the voting process for 83 years – had taken full responsibility for 'breaches of established protocols' that led to the error.... On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that ... Brian Cullinan, one of two accountants whose job it was to hand out the winners’ envelopes..., had tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of [best female actor winner Emma] Stone holding her statuette. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted, handing Beatty the duplicate envelope." -- CW ...

... Actually, No, It Was Donald Trump's Fault. The Hill: "President Trump is calling Sunday’s Oscar ceremony 'sad,' saying the awards show was 'focused so hard on politics' it led to the epic mix-up over the best picture winner. 'I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,' Trump said Monday in an interview with Breitbart News." CW: Because everything is about Drumpf. 

Los Angeles Times: "In one of the most surprising upsets and shocking moments in Oscar history, the poetic coming-of-age drama 'Moonlight' took home the top prize for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards, beating out the heavily favored 'La La Land,' which was actually announced as the winner. The win for 'Moonlight' came in a chaotic and confused moment that played out live in front of an audience of millions, as presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially presented the evening’s final award to 'La La Land,' only to have one of the film’s producers announce that 'Moonlight' had, in fact, won." -- CW 

Here's the LA Times' "live coverage" page.

CW: It would have been way better for the world if the Electoral College had admitted, as a body, that "There's been a mistake." Unfortunately, actors & film producers have more integrity than electors.

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- CW 

Here's a Houzz feature on Frederick Douglass's D.C. home. Since it's not far from Donald Trump's new (temporary) digs and is every bit as fancy, the Trumpster might want to pay a visit to someone who's done such "an amazing job" that he's "getting recognized more and more." SCROTUS may be surprised to discover that Mr. Douglass is not at home. Too bad, because if Mr. Douglass weren't dead, he could have showed Donaldo his portrait, which for some time was owned by W.E.B. Du Bois (or DeBois or whatever).

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Rosie O'Donnell's new Twitter profile pic. Thanks to Unwashed for the link. -- CW 

CNN: "The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' in response to a sudden surge of demand. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon's computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales. The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1." -- CW 

The Netherlands Welcomes Trump, in his own words. Thanks to Haley S. for the link:

... CW: We're the laughingstock of the world. But, like us, others have to laugh so they don't cry or scream or hunker down in a suvivalist's crouch.

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The Commentariat -- Oct. 29, 2014

ABC News: "Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined at a New Jersey hospital despite exhibiting no Ebola symptoms after arriving from West Africa, won't follow the quarantine imposed by Maine officials, her attorney said [Tuesday] night.... Hickox will abide by all the self-monitoring requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Maine, [her attorney Steven] Hyman said.... Maine requires that health care workers such as Hickox who return to the state from West Africa will remain under a 21-day home quarantine, with their condition actively monitored, Gov. Paul R. LePage said in a statement." ...

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama said Tuesday his administration would only adopt Ebola policies that would not jeopardize the ongoing effort to contain Ebola in West Africa.'We don't just react based on our fears. We react based on facts and judgment and making smart decisions,' he said in remarks Tuesday afternoon just before boarding Air Force One":

We want stricter things than what they have been willing to (propose) and now they're incrementally ... moving toward our position. This is because they [CDC doctors] don't want to admit we're right and they're wrong. -- Gov. Dr. Chris Christie on the "Today" show yesterday ...

I think when she has time to reflect she will understand that as well. -- Dr. Christie, Sunday, explaining that Ebola-asymptomatic nurse/New Jersery prisoner Kaci Hickox will agree will come to appreciate her imprisonment when she gets over her hysteria or whatever ...

Whatever. Get in line. I've been sued lots of times before. Get in line. I'm happy to take it on. -- Dr. Christie, Tuesday, daring Hickox to sue him

... Amy Davidson of the New Yorker: "For Christie, there is no contradiction that can't be resolved with combativeness and condescension.... [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo's shift came more quietly, with evasiveness and obfuscation (as the Times noted, his aides distributed an inaccurate transcript of his press conference with Christie Friday) and a note of unearned vanity."

Maya Rhodan of Time: "Twelve winners of the Nobel Peace Prize asked President Barack Obama late Sunday to make sure that a Senate report on the Central Intelligence Agency's use of harsh interrogation tactics is released so the U.S. can put an end to a practice condemned by many as torture.... Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is among the laureates behind the letter, which also calls for the closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay."

Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post: "Hackers thought to be working for the Russian government breached the unclassified White House computer networks in recent weeks, sources said, resulting in temporary disruptions to some services while cybersecurity teams worked to contain the intrusion. White House officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity..., said that the intruders did not damage any of the systems and that, to date, there is no evidence the classified network was hacked." CW: President Obama should punch President Putin in the nose. ...

He's grinning ear-to-ear, he's looking him in the eye the better to see his soul, but he's thinking, "I could smash that little bastard's face in right now with one left-hook."When you look at this chaos that's going on, does anybody think that Vladimir Putin would have gone into Crimea had George W. Bush been president of the United States? No! Even Putin is smart enough to know that Bush would have punched him in the nose in about 10 seconds. -- Speaker & international statesman John Boehner

... Dana Milbank: "The real problem with Obama is not overreach but his tendency to be hands-off." CW: I guess that means he won't punch Putin in the nose. Ah, well. ...

... How about name-calling? Is that tough enough? Luke Brinker of Salon: "Amid mounting tensions between the United States and Israel over the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran's nuclear program, Obama administration officials are bluntly expressing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assailing Netanyahu as a 'chickenshit' and a 'coward.' Those jibes come in a new piece by Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg, who concludes that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is in a perilous position. Goldberg points to 'the comatose peace process' and Netanyahu's strident opposition to a U.S. deal with Iran over the Islamic republic's nuclear program.... A 'senior Obama administration official' told Goldberg, 'The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit.'" CW: Well, okay, off-the-record name-calling is sort of, um, chickenshit.

Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "Attorneys general are now the object of aggressive pursuit by lobbyists and lawyers who use campaign contributions, personal appeals at lavish corporate-sponsored conferences and other means to push them to drop investigations, change policies, negotiate favorable settlements or pressure federal regulators, an investigation by The New York Times has found."

"Freedom Summer, 2015." Jeff Toobin: "... there seems little chance that a majority of the current Court will rein in [voter-suppression law] in any significant way. In courtrooms around the country, it's been made clear that these Republican initiatives have been designed and implemented to disenfranchise Democrats (again, usually of color). But the Supreme Court doesn't care. It's a depressing spectacle, but not a hopeless one.... In light of the changes in the state laws, it's difficult but not impossible to register voters and make sure that they get to cast their ballots.... Voter-registration efforts need people -- individuals willing to do the tedious work of persuading their fellow-citizens to make the effort to register and vote." ...

... BUT. It might not do much good. See Georgia in November Elections below.

I'd Rather Be in Denmark. Liz Alderman & Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times compare fast-food chains in Denmark -- where employees earn a living wage & excellent benefits -- to those in the U.S. -- where "half of the nation's fast-food workers rely on some form of public assistance." Yeah, the Danish restaurants are less profitable, & the burgers cost a little more, but as one Danish fast-food exec said, "We don't want there to be a big difference between the richest and poorest, because poor people would just get really poor. We don't want people living on the streets. If that happens, we consider that we as a society have failed." Exactly. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link. ...

... Charles Pierce: A "real, if unspoken difference between Denmark and the United States is that the members of the Danish corporate class are not trained from their adolescence to become public sociopaths. This is not a minor distinction." ...

... CW: This story, of course, brings to mind one of our top public sociopaths, Scott Walker, who said of the minimum wage, way last week or so, "I don't think it serves a purpose." So this is why ...

... Jonathan Stempel of Reuters: "A labor group in Wisconsin on Monday said it is suing Gov. Scott Walker to force him to raise the state's minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The group, Wisconsin Jobs Now, said the rate is too low, citing a state law requiring that workers be paid a 'living wage,' or an amount with which they can pay for basic needs." CW: That, Scottie, is a purpose. Our society, as the Dane suggests, has failed, thanks to nasty little runts like you.

James Ball of the Guardian: "British intelligence services can access raw material collected in bulk by the NSA and other foreign spy agencies without a warrant, the government has confirmed for the first time. GCHQ's secret 'arrangements' for accessing bulk material are revealed in documents submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the UK surveillance watchdog, in response to a joint legal challenge by Privacy International, Liberty and Amnesty International. The legal action was launched in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian and other news organisations last year."

Charles Pierce takes on Thomas Frank's comparison of Presidents Obama & Carter. This is a more serious post than Pierce's usual takes on the stoopid. Pierce, as have others, notes that Frank doesn't seem aware of that thing called Congress, & he goes into the history of Carter's relationship with Congressional Democrats.

Pope Francis lets on that the creation story is nonsense:

When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magician, with a magic wand able to make everything. But it is not so. The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of Creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve. -- Pope Francis, Monday

It's not about sex, so maybe Ross Doo-thought can handle it. -- Constant Weader

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Benghaaazi! CW: My teevee reception sometimes goes down; over the years I've had bad phone connections & my current phone rings every time I hang it up; I am always having computer problems. Ergo, a federal agency must be bugging me. So far, the only media that seem to be taking right-wing & former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson's story seriously are Erik Wemple, the media reporter for the WashPo & the usual suspects: Breitbart & Fox "News." Who knows? She could be right. Maybe the feds were bugging her electronic devices (like the teevee, where maybe she watched "Homefront" & Fox "News") while she was writing about Benghaazi. ...

     ... Update. Tom Kludt of TPM: "When reached by TPM on Tuesday, CBS News declined to comment. The network confirmed last year that a security firm determined that Attkisson's computer had been 'accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012.'"

The Seattle Times-Bureau. Mike Carter of the Seattle Times: "The FBI in Seattle created a fake news story on a bogus Seattle Times web page to plant software in the computer of a suspect in a series of bomb threats to Lacey's Timberline High School in 2007, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in San Francisco.... The revelation brought a sharp response from the newspaper. 'We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,' said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best. 'Not only does that cross a line, it erases it,' she said."

Tom Kludt of TPM: "On Saturday, Don Surber, the [Charleston, West Virginia,] Daily Mail's lone editorial columnist, took to his personal blog to offer his thoughts on 'police brutality' and the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. 'This summer I had an epiphany as I watched packs of racists riot in Ferguson, Missouri, in support of a gigantic thug who was higher than a kite when he attacked Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson, who unfortunately had to put this animal down,' Surber wrote.... [Daily Mail editor & publisher Brad] McElhinny told TPM he was grateful when we noted up front that the post appeared on Surber's blog, home to gags about Hillary Clinton's age and commentaries on the

November Elections

"The Momentum Mirage." Harry Enten & Nate Silver of 538: "You might be hearing that Democrats or Republicans have 'momentum' heading into the final week of the 2014 campaign. On Tuesday, for example, a Washington Post headline asserted 'Midterm momentum belongs to GOP.' That was based on a generic ballot poll showing a 6 percentage point Republican lead. But later in the day, a Fox News generic ballot poll came out showing Democrats up by 1 point instead -- Fox had previously shown Republicans ahead.... A lot of what looks like momentum in the polls is really just random noise."

AP: "President Barack Obama is kicking off a weeklong, six-state campaign spree with a visit to Wisconsin. Obama will attend a rally at a Milwaukee high school Tuesday for Mary Burke, the Democrat trying to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Defeating Walker, a potential 2016 presidential contender, would be a major coup for Democrats. The president has been a rare sight on the campaign trail this year, where his low approval ratings make him a potential liability for his party." ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "At 51 percent, Obama's favorability rating is about 10 points higher in Wisconsin than in the rest of the country, and he addressed a mostly African-American crowd in a Milwaukee ward where he won 99 percent of the vote in 2012." Hartmann's full report contains some other interesting or odd campaign tidbits in other races. (Brief clip of President Obama's Milwaukee rally under Wisconsin below.

** Charles Pierce explains the Democrats' real electoral problem: "... because of the effective campaign of vandalism run by the Republican congress, and because of the complete inability of the Democratic party to craft a consistent economic message that doesn't sound like warmed-over DLC hash, and (yes, dear friends) because the twice-elected Democratic president didn't choose to hold completely responsible the grifters and thieves who rigged the system in the first place, there is absolutely no way at the moment for any Democratic politician -- including [Elizabeth Warren] -- to take full advantage of the success of her message. People want what Senator Professor Warren is selling. They just don't want to buy it from Democrats." CW: Read the whole post. There are consequences to hiring Geither & Summers, Ltd. & trying to sell that government "belt-tightening" message Obama repeatedly delivered during his first term. AND it isn't as if no experts mentioned this timely (Paul Krugman, ad nauseum, Joe Stiglitz).

Mark Leibovich in the New York Times Magazine: "... countless candidates seem determined to tout their fitness for these enormous challenges by trying to out-bumpkin one another.... Skilled politicians have a proud tradition of conveying utter contempt for their profession, especially when they're running to keep their jobs. This is, to some degree, rooted in our history.... The apotheosis of the modern bumpkin mode has been embodied by Sarah Palin...."

Georgia. Alice Ollstein of Think Progress: "On Tuesday, Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from civil rights advocates to force Georgia's Secretary of State to process an estimated 40,000 voter registrations that have gone missing from the public database. Though early voting is well underway in the state, Judge Brasher called the lawsuit 'premature,' and said it was based on 'merely set out suspicions and fears that the [state officials] will fail to carry out their mandatory duties.' Dr. Francys Johnson, President of the Georgia NAACP, who represented the 40 thousand voters in the court, called the ruling 'outrageous.'... 'All in all -- a republican appointed judge has backed the republican Secretary of State to deny the right to vote to a largely African American and Latino population,' Johnson wrote in a press release.' Civil rights lawyer Marsha "Burrofsky said the people she registered in Dunwoody, Georgia, a more affluent and conservative community, did show up in the system, while those in more diverse and low-income communities in DeKalb County mysteriously disappeared."

Kentucky. Jonathan Chait: Mitch McConnell is afraid to vote to repeal ObummerCare. He said as much on Fox "News." Because reality. ...

... Greg Sargent: This "ad ticked off the McConnell campaign, which ... is trying to get TV stations to stop running the ad. I've checked in with Kentucky stations, and most declined to reveal their plans for the spot, though an official at one -- Fox affiliate WDRB -- told me: 'We reinstated the spot, finding the assertions factual.'" ...

... Getting Democracy Backwards. Steve Benen: "With time running out in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell decided to remind the state that he wanted to effectively eliminate the popular and effective Social Security system. Indeed, it's been part of McConnell's governing vision for many, many years. When local reporter Joe Sonka asked McConnell whether voters should expect the senator to push Social Security privatization after the midterms, McConnell replied, 'I'm not announcing what the agenda would be in advance.'" CW: Because telling voters you're going to screw them is not the best campaign strategy. So what we know about the GOP-led Senate is that it has a secret agenda. Just trust them. Read Benen's whole post.

Iowa. Iowa City Press-Citizen Editors endorse Democrat Bruce Braley for Senate because Tea party balls-butcher Joni Ernst has crazy ideas & won't show up to speak to editorial boards about them. Via Paul Waldman.

Wisconsin. Katie McDonough of Salon: "Scott Walker knows the best way to support equal pay is to repeal equal pay laws. A new ad from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker features his lieutenant governor celebrating his apparent support for equal pay for women.... Gender-based employment discrimination is illegal in Wisconsin under the state's Fair Employment Act. But in 2012, Walker quietly repealed the state's Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which gave the existing equal pay law more teeth."

Presidential Race

Heaven Help Us. Tim Alberta & Shane Goldmacher of the National Journal: Ted Cruz & Mike Huckabee, among others, are already working the crowds in the "evangelical primary." "Social conservatives are desperate to settle on a single candidate earlier than ever to avoid another 'moderate' as the GOP nominee." They like Mike.

Beyond the Beltway

Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz of CNN: "The police chief in Ferguson, Missouri, is expected to step down as part of the effort by city officials to reform the police department, according to government officials familiar with the ongoing discussions between local, state and federal officials. But Chief Thomas Jackson and the city's mayor say the reports aren't true. Under the proposed plan, after Jackson leaves, city leadership would ask the St. Louis County police chief to take over management of Ferguson's police force."

News Lede

TMZ: "Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa has retained a law firm that will file a major lawsuit over her mom's death ... TMZ has confirmed.... The firm -- Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz will file a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic where Joan stopped breathing and the doctors who were involved."


The Commentariat -- Oct. 28, 2014

NEW. Gov. Rush Limbaugh. Marc Santora & Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: New Jersey Gov. Chris "Christie continued to defend his state's mandatory quarantine program on Tuesday morning, even as a growing number of scientists and public health experts condemned the restrictions as overly broad and possibly harmful in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. The New England Journal of Medicine, in an editorial published on its website, said the approach taken by New Jersey, New York and several other states 'is not scientifically based, is unfair and unwise, and will impede essential efforts to stop these awful outbreaks of Ebola disease at their source, which is the only satisfactory goal.'"

Ron Nixon of the New York Times: "In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations. The number of requests, contained in a little-noticed 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service's inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.... The audit found that in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization." ...

... Eric Tucker of the AP: "While Congress mulls how to curtail the NSA's collection of Americans' telephone records, impatient civil liberties groups are looking to legal challenges already underway in the courts to limit government surveillance powers. Three appeals courts are hearing lawsuits against the bulk phone records program, creating the potential for an eventual Supreme Court review." ...

... Katrina Vanden Heuvel of the Nation, in the Washington Post: "It is time for President Obama to offer clemency to Edward Snowden, the courageous U.S. citizen who revealed the Orwellian reach of the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance of Americans. His actions may have broken the law, but his act, as the New York Times editorialized, did the nation 'a great service.'"

Michael Shear & Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "The federal government on Monday announced a new set of monitoring guidelines for people arriving from West Africa that stopped short of the tough measures instituted in New York and New Jersey last week, an effort to bring uniformity to a messy patchwork of responses by states. The new policy, which federal health officials said was an effort ... to strike a balance between safety and civil liberties, would require returning heath care workers, or people who had been near Ebola patients, to submit to an in-person checkup and a phone call from a local public health authority." ...

... Jon Swaine & Dan Roberts of the Guardian: "Federal health officials attempted on Monday to bring some order to a chaotic response to the latest Ebola diagnosis in the United States, after the United Nations criticised earlier restrictions placed on healthcare workers returning from west Africa.". ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "Since each state sets its own quarantine rules, governors can keep imprisoning health-care workers if they want. The army immediately undermined the federal government's new guidelines by announcing that soldiers returning from West Africa are being quarantined for 21 days, though they show no signs of illness and had no direct contact with Ebola patients." ...

... The Most Misunderstood Man in New Jersey Is Misunderstood Again. Matt Arco of NJ Advance Media: " Gov. Chris Christie insisted during a campaign stop today he hasn't reversed his decision on mandatory quarantines for people traveling to the U.S. from West Africa, even as a nurse who had been held at University hospital was released earlier this afternoon. The governor, speaking to reporters in Florida, said his policy hasn't changed. The statement came just hours after the administration announced the nurse under quarantine at University Hospital in Newark after treating Ebola patients in Africa will be discharged. 'I didn't reverse any decision, why are you saying I reversed my decision?' Christie responded to a question today about the nurse, Kaci Hickox." ...

... Susan Livio of NJ Advance Media: Hickox "will be expected to quarantine herself at home, according to the Maine Health Department, which pledged to 'work collaboratively' with her and coordinate any food or medicine she might need if she begins to show symptoms." ...

... Liz Robbins, et al., of the New York Times: "Even as New Jersey officials on Monday released a nurse they had kept quarantined in a tent since her return from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, an unapologetic Gov. Chris Christie dismissed those who questioned his handling of the case and denied that he had reversed himself.... Mr. Christie said he had no reason to talk to [nurse Kaci] Hickox. 'My job is not to represent her,' he said. 'My job is to represent the people of New Jersey.'" ...

... CW: Yesterday, Steve M. asked "Is Chris Christie being mean enough to Kari Hickox to win the Republican nomination in 2016?" Yeah, I think, "Fuck you, International Hero Nurse," is just mean enough. (It would have been better if Hickox had been both a nurse AND a nun who dedicated herself at great risk to helping the helpless, but you can't have everything.) ...

     ... Oh, sorry, I was wrong. Lucy McCalmont of Politico: "Rush Limbaugh slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday over his Ebola response, saying it's the Republican governor who should be quarantined for siding with President Barack Obama ahead of the elections. 'So one week before the election, once again, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has caved. We need to quarantine Chris Christie is what needs to happen here, folks. This is the second election in a row,' Limbaugh said on his radio program.... Comparing Christie's Ebola response to his Hurricane Sandy hug with the president ahead of the 2012 elections, Limbaugh said Christie is 'responding to Obama's demands.'" ...

... Steve M. explains Christie's mistake: "If he were whining now that he was forced to [release Hickox] by jackbooted Obama administration thugs, or possibly by evil trial lawyers (... Hickox was threatening a federal lawsuit), he might be looking good right now in the eyes of Limbaugh and his crowd.... You leave her in the tent, or you say you were forced to free her by the fascist political correctness police. Christie had an enemy -- as Mark noted in my comments, the right was already mounting a hate campaign against Hickox, noting that she's (gasp!) a registered Democrat, and has worked for (horrors!) the CDC." ...

... Abby Ohlheiser & Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post: Hickox "was specifically critical of Christie, who had told reporters Saturday that Hickox was 'obviously ill.' 'First of all, I don't think he's a doctor,' Hickox told CNN on Sunday, in an interview from her isolation tent.... That same day, she hired civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who told NBC News that Hickox planned to sue for her release." ...

... Andy Borowitz: "Saying that he was 'sick and tired of having my medical credentials questioned,' Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) had himself sworn in as a medical doctor on Sunday night. Dr. Christie acknowledged that becoming a doctor generally requires pre-med classes, four years of medical school, plus additional years of residency, but he said that the Ebola epidemic compelled him to take 'extraordinary measures, as we say in the medical profession.'" ...

... Benjamin Wallace-Wells of New York: "Christie's own politics, his instinctive pugilistic communitarianism, may seem a little anachronistic in a country less inclined to see outsiders as enemies.... Already there is something that feels characteristic about Christie in this episode, in which he rushed to the barricades to fight an enemy that no one else could see."

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times: "The office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said on Monday that [New York C]ity's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the contractor, Computer Sciences Corporation, created schemes that would trigger [fraudulent Medicaid] reimbursements on tens of thousands of false claims.... [The] reimbursements ... amount to tens of millions of dollars.... The lawsuit, which follows a whistle-blower's complaint, was filed under the False Claims Act. The lawsuit demands triple damages and penalties, but does not specify how much it is seeking.... '... we strongly disagree with the allegations, which we believe involve technical billing issues, not fraud,' the [city's] Law Department said."

A Kindlier, Gentler ISIS Media Campaign? Adam Taylor of the Washington Post: "In a remarkable new video released by the Islamic State militants, British hostage John Cantlie gives a tour of the Syrian city of Kobane and denounces Western coverage of the fighting in the city."

Kate Cox of the Nation: "All across the United States, prison populations are graying, growing old and infirm behind bars.... This is a man-made crisis that tracks back to the nation's long obsession with retribution, which peaked in the 1980s and 1990s. That's when the 'tough on crime' and 'war on drugs' ideologies reigned supreme, spawning mandatory minimum sentences and 'three strikes' laws, among other things.... Spending on inmates ages 50 and older tops $16 billion annually.... Perpetrators and victims -- and the public at large -- could benefit from a system that recognizes retribution must be paired with earlier release and more support for re-entry, as well as repealing mandatory minimum sentencing laws and refocusing our energies on diversion, community supervision and community-based sanctions and services."

November Elections

Dan Balz & Peyton Craighill of the Washington Post: "Republicans enter the final week of the midterm campaign holding higher ground than the Democrats, [link fixed] aided by public dissatisfaction with President Obama's leadership, with the overall direction of the country and with the federal government's ability to deal with major problems, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll." ...

... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "... it is perfectly possible that neither side will emerge from next Tuesday with victory sealed. Runoffs are likely in Georgia and Louisiana. We could have to wait until early January to find out who controls the upper chamber."

John Dickerson of Slate: "This year's contest is a no-mandate election, in which the winning side will succeed with no great animating idea other than the fear (or avoidance) of the Obama nightmare. Republican debates, speeches, and advertisements have been so thoroughly concerned with the president and how much the Democrat on the ballot agrees with him, there is no other message that competes. That's a smart political strategy, but it's not a governing strategy. Republicans may take control of Congress, but it will have been by clobbering a president they'll then have to work with...."

Coming Soon -- the Ebola Senate Majority. Margaret Talev of Bloomberg Politics: "Last week marked a spike in TV ad buys in Senate and House races featuring either the word 'Ebola' or images of emergency workers in protective suits and masks, according to data from Kantar Media's CMAG, a tracking firm. The uptick coincided with polling showing worsening prospects for Democrats in some of the same states where the ads are running, including Georgia." ...

... David Espo of the AP: "Senate Democrats unleashed a late-campaign round of attack ads Monday accusing Republicans in key races of harboring plans to cut Social Security and Medicare. The commercials in Iowa, New Hampshire, Louisiana and elsewhere appear aimed at older voters, who cast ballots in relatively large numbers in midterm elections and have tended to support Republicans in recent years."

Georgia. Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post: "David Perdue, Georgia's Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, defended himself Sunday night against charges that he paid female managers less than male ones when he was CEO of Dollar General, saying 'it was less than 2,000 people' who brought the lawsuit against the company.... We had upwards of 70,000 employees at that company.'" ... Paul Waldman suggests, "Maybe he should turn this into a slogan: 'David Purdue: The majority of people who worked for me didn't sue for discrimination.'" ...

     ... CW: If you read the underlying Mother Jones story, you'll see that more than 4,000 employees sued Dollar General during Perdue's tenure as CEO: 2,100+ in the gender discrimination suit & another 2,000 in a suit claiming "that the company had made them managers in name only so it could deny them overtime they would have earned as store clerks." In mediation, Dollar General paid off the employees & former employees in both class action suits.

Kentucky. The Louisville Courier Journal Editors in endorsing Alison Grimes. notes that Mitch McConnell has refused to speak to the board: McConnell "now is identified largely as the master of obstruction and gridlock in Washington. Kentucky needs a U.S. senator who sees a higher calling than personal ambition and a greater goal than self-aggrandizement." ...

Lexington Herald Leader Editors, endorses Alison Grimes for U.S. Senate: "The Senate may never recover from the bitter paralysis [Mitch] McConnell has inflicted through record filibusters that allow his minority to rule by obstruction. Even before Barack Obama was sworn in, McConnell told his fellow Republicans that their strategy was to deny the new president any big wins. The country was in two wars and at deep risk of sliding into a depression, but making an adversary look bad was McConnell's main mission. His signature cause - flooding elections with ever more money - corrupts. He poses as a champion of the right to criticize the government, but it's really his rich buddies' right to buy the government that he champions." ...

... Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: After asking McConnell's various offices a dozen times, a spokesman finally confirmed that Mitch McConnell "wants to repeal the full health care law, including not just the federal subsidies for people purchasing on exchanges like Kynect, but also the mandates and taxes on high-cost plans and other features of the legislation." CW: Say adios to affordable health insurance, 500,000 Kentuckians & millions of Americans. ...

... CW: Despite his despicable character & Dickensian policies, Mitch makes a humanizing campaign ad, proving, if nothing else, that Mad men are awesome. If you can make the Turtle seem like a good-natured human being, you can make even that dead guy in New Hampshire (see below) come to life:

Louisiana. Phil Mattingly of Bloomberg Politics: "Senator Mary Landrieu [C-La.] used the absence of her top opponent in her re-election race at Monday's debate to highlight her differences with President Barack Obama and her efforts to work across the aisle during her time in office.... The no-show, Rep. Bill Cassidy "has consistently led Landrieu in head-to-head polling."

Maine. Matt Byrne of the Portland Press Herald: "Two Portland-area lawmakers will roll out a referendum petition drive this week to enact ranked-choice voting in Maine gubernatorial elections. Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, who is running for re-election, and Sen. Richard Woodbury, an independent from Yarmouth who is not running again, said Monday that ranked-choice voting offers a fairer way for Mainers to choose their governor." CW: Good for Russell & Woodbury, but this system should be used for other races, too.

Massachusetts. Charles Pierce stands up for Martha Coakley & rips the Boston Globe for its endorsement of Charlie Baker which "doesn't make a very compelling case for Baker over Coakley on any grounds save for the fact that he's not her."

New Hampshire -- where a dead politicians weighs in on today's U.S. Senate campaign. He didn't like Jeanne Shaheen when he was alive, & he doesn't like her now that he's dead, apparently. Anyway, the GOP thought what was good in 2008 is good for 2014. Whatever. Dave Weigel, via Margaret Hartmann.

Wisconsin. "Scott Walker to Chris Christie: Thanks for Nothing." Alexander Burns of Politico: "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he needs more help from the national GOP in his reelection fight -- and an upcoming visit from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn't going to cut it.... '[Christie] is coming because he asked if he could come and we weren't going to say no,' Walker said. 'But we're not looking for surrogates.'" CW Note to Scottie: Maybe your likely 2016 presidential rival doesn't want you to win this one.

Presidential Election

Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post: "As [Chris] Christie considers a run for president, the question of how his image as a no-nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip executive will play in the far-flung precincts of Iowa and South Carolina, where politics tends to be less in-your-face than in New Jersey, is increasingly relevant. His Ebola decision thrust both his persona and his policy-making style back into the spotlight."

Surprise! Hillary Business, After All. Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed. At a rally for Martha Coakley Friday, where she & Elizabeth Warren both spoke, Hillary Clinton said, "Don't let anybody tell you that corporations and businesses create jobs." Speaking Monday at a rally for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney" (D-N.Y.), Clinton corrected herself: "The Republican alternative is a discredited economic theory that will hurt middle class families. So-called trickle-down economics has failed. I short-handed this point the other day, so let me be absolutely clear about what I've been saying for a couple of decades. Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in America and workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out -- not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas." CW Translation: "Send more cash, my Little Wall Street Angels." ...

... Jonathan Chait adds some context in a post titled, "In gaffe, Hillary Clinton endorses communism."

Jason Horowitz of the New York Times profiles Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is gearing up to run for president.

Beyond the Beltway

Michael Schwirtz & Michael Winerip of the New York Times: "The New York City Correction Department’s top uniformed officer, facing criticism over underreporting of violence at Rikers Island, will step down, a department spokesman said Tuesday. The officer, William Clemons, a 29-year veteran correction official in New York, was appointed chief of department just five months ago by Mayor Bill de Blasio's reform-minded correction commissioner, who described him at the time as a 'superb corrections professional.'... The move is a blow to the commissioner, Joseph Ponte, who has stalwartly defended his decision to promote Mr. Clemons in the face of unsettling revelations about his competence in recent weeks." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "In a major shake-up at the New York City Correction Department, three high-ranking officials, including the top uniformed officer, are stepping down amid mounting criticism over the handling of violence and corruption at Rikers Island.... Mayor Bill de Blasio's handpicked correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte, had promoted all three within the last five months."

News Ledes

AP: "An unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff Tuesday evening, with debris falling in flames over the launch site in eastern Virginia. No injuries were reported following the first catastrophic launch in NASA's commercial spaceflight effort. The accident at Orbital Sciences Corp.'s launch complex at Wallops Island was sure to draw criticism over the space agency's growing reliance on private U.S. companies in this post-shuttle effort."

USA Today: "Amber Vinson, one of two Texas nurses who tested positive for Ebola after treating an infected patient, is free of the virus and will be discharged Tuesday from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, according to the hospital."

Atlantic: "Darren Wilson, the police officer accused of shooting Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer..., has not been seen since August 9.... It's now being reported that a total of six criminal cases have been dismissed, because Wilson, as the arresting officer, isn't showing up to court to testify."

CNN: "South African prosecutors will appeal the verdict and the sentence in the Oscar Pistorius case, a spokesman for the country's National Prosecuting Authority told CNN on Monday."


The Commentariat -- Oct. 27, 2014

Paul Krugman: "... nowadays we simply won't invest [in public projects], even when the need is obvious and the timing couldn't be better. And don't tell me that the problem is 'political dysfunction' or some other weasel phrase that diffuses the blame. Our inability to invest ... reflects the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party."

Azam Ahmed of the New York Times: "Combat operations in Helmand Province officially ended on Sunday for the United States Marines and British troops stationed there, bringing an end to a decade-long struggle to keep a major Taliban stronghold and the region's vast opium production in check. Officials commemorated the handover during simultaneous ceremonies at Camp Leatherneck for the Marines and Camp Bastion for the British forces, conjoined bases that made up the coalition headquarters for the region."

Matt Flegenheimer, et al., of the New York Times: "Facing fierce resistance from the White House and medical experts to a strict new mandatory quarantine policy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday night that medical workers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa but did not show symptoms of the disease would be allowed to remain at home and would receive compensation for lost income." This is a revision of the NYT story linked in yesterday's News Ledes. ...

This is government's job. We have taken this action, and I have no second thoughts about it. -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on quarantines of people who have come into contact with Ebola ...

... CW: Um, actually Christie did have second thoughts. This, from today's NYT piece by Flegenheimer, et al.: "After Mr. Cuomo's announcement, Mr. Christie issued a statement saying that, under protocols announced on Wednesday [??], New Jersey residents not displaying symptoms would also be allowed to quarantine in their homes." ...

... BUT. Jonathan Cohn: "Meanwhile, Hickox remains in her tent, at least as of this writing. Her presence could discourage health care workers from going overseas in the future. That would be tragic -- and dangerous." ...

... Steve M.: "Is Chris Christie being mean enough to Kari Hickox to win the Republican nomination in 2016?" ...

... Elizabeth Cohen, et al. of CNN: "Kaci Hickox, a nurse placed under mandatory quarantine in New Jersey, went on CNN on Sunday and criticized the 'knee-jerk reaction by politicians' to Ebola, saying 'to quarantine someone without a better plan in place, without more forethought, is just preposterous.' Hickox, an epidemiologist who was working to help treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, has tested negative twice for Ebola and does not have symptoms, she said." With video. ...

James Hambin of the Atlantic has a long piece on the U.S.'s response to Ebola, in which he cites the work of interviews Steven Hatfill, who "was very publicly, very falsely accused of killing several people with anthrax in 2001.... As he wrote....: 'The initial response to the outbreak of Ebola in the United States has been badly designed, and poorly and incompetently implemented.... The leading health authorities of the United States have made far over-reaching statements and assumptions that are not fully supported by the existing scientific literature.' For one objection, Hatfill wants it known that ... aerosol droplet transmission of Ebola virus has been shown in animal studies. 'It is therefore irresponsible for government health officials to emphatically state that aerosol transmission does not occur,' he writes. He also believes the argument against a national quarantine is 'inexcusable in light of the size of the current West African epidemic.' Hatfill's concerns are backed by some compelling evidence and the clout of a long, storied career." ...

Jonathan Chait: "If Republicans recapture the Senate majority, Mitch McConnell has a plan ... [to] restore the Senate to its glorious, dignified place in American political life ... [as it was] before Harry Reid degraded the institution.... It takes an exceptionally principled politician to elevate procedural fairness over his own political goals. That doesn't sound like a description of Mitch McConnell."

The New York Times has an extensive review of how the Affordable Care Act has performed: "After a year fully in place, the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama's main promises, an analysis by a team of reporters and data researchers shows. But it has also fallen short in some ways and given rise to a powerful conservative backlash." ...

... CW: I know for sure it's working. I had the TV on in the middle of the night, & some rip-off outfit was urging people to call in to get ACA health insurance. If the crooks have found it, it's working.

Today's History Lesson. Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times: "In the decades after World War II, the C.I.A. and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government's ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show." ...

... CW: So here's a question for you. And for Congress. Should these ex-Nazis, who worked for the U.S., get Social Security benefits? See also this story.

Digby gives her take on Thomas Frank's essay (linked in the Commentariat yesterday) on the parallels between the Obama & Carter presidencies. ...

... Scott Lemieux writes the "Shorter Thomas Frank." ...

... Paul Waldman: "I'm not going to bother going through all the things that are wrong with Frank's argument (Bill Clinton was 'passionless'?), but one thing's for sure: There are no liberals left who think that the savagery of the right is best dealt with through some kind of mushy-headed post-partisanship. Frankly, I don't know how many of them there were to begin with, even those who were smitten by Barack Obama in 2008. They didn't love Obama because they thought he'd melt conservatives' icy hearts; one of the things that made him so compelling was the fact that not only was he inspiring and new, he was also obviously a shrewd tactician who knew how to wield the knife, as he showed in dispatching Hillary Clinton."

Kara Lankford of Ocean Conservancy in Politico Magazine: "Yes, BP did damage the Gulf." CW: This seems to be Politico's mea culpa. They used the same format for Lankford's piece as for BP exec Geoff Morrell's piece in the magazine last week. In an earlier opinion piece outlining damage to Gulf, Politico made abundantly clear that the work was "only the author's opinion."

Yishai Schwartz of the New Republic on the documentary film Citizenfour, by Laura Poitras about Ed Snowden: "Despite Poitras' best efforts, the movie confirms the views of [Snowden's] critics."

God News Follow-up. Mark Kleiman of the Reality-Base Community: "Shorter Ross Douthat: All Popes are infallible, but reactionary Popes are more infallible than others. Note especially two extraordinary claims: * That what Douthat admits is a traditionalist minority deserves deference because of its energy. Apparently Douthat wants his faction to dominate the Church the way the Tea Party dominates the GOP. * That it would be outrageous for Pope Francis to use the power of appointment to move the Church into the future in precisely the way his two predecessors used it to move the Church into the past."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Charles Pierce reviews the Sunday shows.

November Elections

Nate Cohn of the New York Times: "Many of the governor's races remain exceedingly close, according to the latest round of data from The New York Times/CBS News/YouGov online panel of more than 80,000 respondents.... On balance, Democrats seem set to pick up two or three states, mainly because the Republicans enter the elections with twice as many Republican-held seats. But it is easy to imagine the Republicans holding their advantage -- there are 29 Republican governors and 21 Democratic ones -- or the Democrats picking up a half-dozen seats." ...

E. J. Dionne lists four "underappreciated facts" about the midterm Senate elections. "If Democrats upset expectations, these underappreciated factors will be the reason." ...

... Nate Silver reviews the lastest polls, noting that the GOP's Senate "advantage remains consistent but not decisive."

Maine. Steve Mistler of the Portland Press Herald: "Republican Gov. Paul LePage has opened a lead over Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in the closing weeks of the gubernatorial campaign, according to a Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald poll. The findings mark a significant shift from previous polls showing both candidates running in a virtual dead heat. LePage leads Michaud 45 percent to 35 percent, with independent Eliot Cutler at 16 percent and 4 percent undecided...." CW: If Cutler actually cares about Maine, he should drop out now & not make this the second gubernatorial race he's given to LePage.

Massachusetts. The Boston Globe editors endorse Republican Charlie Baker for governor.

New Hampshire. Marin Cogan of New York: Elizabeth Warren aims to defeat Scott Brown -- again. "... no matter how well Scott Brown does on election day, he is poised to make history: either as the first politician to be elected senator from two different states in nearly a century and a half, or, as [N.H. Sen. Jeanne] Shaheen hopes, as the first to run in two states and be defeated by two women." Shaheen, BTW, is "the first woman to serve as both governor and senator of a state in U.S. history."

Presidential Election

Arlette Saenz of ABC News: "In an interview in College Station, Texas, this week, George P. Bush told ABC News' Jonathan Karl he thinks his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will 'more than likely' run for president in 2016." ...

     ... UPDATE. Charles Pierce reminds of Pee's youthful stalker days. Apparently, being the son of a wealthy Republican means having to do some illegal, creepy things to women.

... Peter Baker of the New York Times tells you just what all the members of the Bush family think about President Jeb." ...

... CW: I cannot think of how this country could better demonstrate to the world that it has become retrogressive, dynastic & dull than to have another Bush-Clinton race, starring two old fogies. A Romney-Clinton race would not be much better. I think either would be described by future historians as the endpoint of U.S. global leadership, although the pivotal point probably came in 2001, when the Supremes elected Dubya. An uninspiring presidential face-off would/will be another, significant event in the decline & fall.

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was reelected by a whisker in a second-round head-to-head vote, after one of the closest, most aggressive campaigns in the country's recent history."

Guardian: "Pro-Europe parties secured a big win in an election in Ukraine, a partial vote count suggested on Monday, with President Petro Poroshenko hailing people's support for his plan to end a separatist war and pursue democratic reforms sought by the west."

Seattle Times: "A second student has died after a freshman’s shooting rampage Friday at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Gia Soriano, 14, died Sunday night at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, a hospital official announced at a news conference. She had been hospitalized in critical condition since the shooting."


The Commentariat -- Oct. 26, 2014

Sabrina Tavernise, et al., of the New York Times: New York's "carefully planned response was a world apart from the scene that unfolded in a Dallas hospital last month when a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, became the first person to test positive for Ebola in the United States.... The often rudderless response [in Dallas] lasted two weeks, and in the end, two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, fell ill with the virus. Both have recovered, but the searing experience stunned experts, and shook Americans' confidence in their health care system.... In effect, the United States has become 19th-century Britain: We provide superb education for elites, but we falter at mass education." ...

... As Marvin Schwalb points out, not every response to Ebola in these parts is perfect (blame Chris Christie!):

... Anemona Hartocollis & Emma Fitzsimmons of the New York Times: "A nurse who was being quarantined at a New Jersey hospital after working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone criticized her treatment on Saturday as an overreaction after an initial test found that she did not have the virus. 'I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa,' the nurse, Kaci Hickox, wrote in an essay on the website of The Dallas Morning News, in collaboration with a friend who works for the paper. 'I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear, and most frightening, quarantine.'" ...

... Noam Scheiber of the New Republic: "The authorities in New York clearly lied in their press conference ... about Craig Spencer, the New York physician who contracted Ebola while volunteering for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea. Among the many accurate pieces of information that Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and city Health Commissioner Mary Bassett disseminated to the public was the following whopper: That Dr. Spencer acted entirely appropriately and responsibly.... This is clearly not true.... He decided to ride the subway, go bowling, and frolic at the High Line Park on Wednesday." Scheiber is okay with the lie because it avoided public panic. CW: I think the lie was stupid & I thought so when I read it because I already knew Spencer had been all over the city. And that too was damned stoopid.

Nicholas Kristof: "THE best escalator to opportunity in America is education. But a new study underscores that the escalator is broken.... A new Pew survey finds that Americans consider the greatest threat to our country to be the growing gap between the rich and poor. Yet we have constructed an education system, dependent on local property taxes, that provides great schools for the rich kids in the suburbs... and broken, dangerous schools for inner-city children.... Too often, America's education system amplifies not opportunity but inequality." ...

... CW: You know where Education Secretary Arne Duncan is on this? Nineteenth-century Britain.

WHERE'S ARNE? Surely he's here somewhere.

Thomas Frank on how Barack Obama is just like Jimmy Carter. Thanks to Terence for the link.

Charles C. W. Cooke of the National Review, in the New York Times: "If supporters of the right to keep and bear arms want their pleas to be heard in their proper context, they might consider talking a little less about Valley Forge and a little more about Jim Crow -- and attempting to fill their ranks with people who have known much more recently what tyranny really looks like." CW: This is a remarkable essay: historically & theoretically correct -- & stunningly naive. If black people want to get shot dead with impunity, they should openly pack heat in stand-your-ground states.

God News

Ross Douthat with News from the Vatican: Oh my god oh my god. The Holy Roman Catholic Church is in CHAOS. Stop the gays! Stop the divorcees! "... this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him." ...

... Bad News, Ross. Cathy Grossman of Religion News Service: A new survey by religion researcher David Kinnaman finds that 38 percent of Americans are "churchless"; that is, "roughly four in 10 people living in the continental United States are actually 'post-Christian' and 'essentially secular in belief and practice.'" Via Steve Benen.

Sarah Jones in Americans United for Separation of Church & State: Alabamians will vote next week on a ludicrous state constitutional amendment to outlaw Sharia law. To make the amendment look less silly, its authors didn't use the word "Sharia." "At Americans United, we are often asked why we don't support these bills. The answer is always the same: Because there isn't a real threat that our courts or legislatures are implementing Sharia law. We have yet to receive a report about a Muslim community or Muslim elected official attempting to legislate based on Sharia principles.... We do, however, receive many reports about fundamentalist Christians doing exactly that." Via Benen.

CW: Isn't it time for conservative Christians to do something about the shocking fact that four months of the year -- January, March, May & June -- are named for pagan gods? It's bad enough that two months are named for pagan dictators -- July & August -- but gods? In Christianland, the calendars months should be something like Epiphany, February, Easter, Josephus, Mary, Jesus, September, October, November, December, Reaganus, Christmas.

November Elections

Alabama. See God News, above.

Kentucky. Alexander Bolton of the Hill: "Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is giving his reelection campaign a $1.8 million personal loan to stave off a new round of attack ads from Democrats."

Mississippi. Geoff Pender of the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger: "The state Supreme Court on Friday upheld the dismissal of Chris McDaniel's lawsuit over his June GOP primary loss to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. The court ruled four to two, upholding a lower court decision that McDaniel waited too long to file the challenge of his loss. Three justices did not participate.... Neither McDaniel nor his lead attorney Mitch Tyner answered definitively on Friday whether the ruling will put end to his trying to overturn the election...."

Beyond the Beltway

Another Murder in Gunland. David Ferguson of the Raw Story: "A Gary, Indiana man shot and killed a 13-year-old neighbor boy for laughing at him on Friday night. According to the Gary Post-Tribune, police have not released the shooter's name, but said that he shot Kobe Jones, 13, nine times.... Gary Police Lt. Thomas Pawlak told the [Gary] Post-Tribune that the gunman's home was broken into and robbed some time on Friday afternoon..... As [the shooter] was having a noisy tantrum in his back yard, a crowd of neighborhood residents gathered. Jones made the mistake of laughing at his neighbor's histrionics."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "Under the cloud of a bitter war in their nation's east, Ukrainians on Sunday were projected to have elected the most pro-European parliament in their country's 23-year-old history, firmly backing an effort to steer their nation away from Russia's orbit."

New York Times: "The Obama administration has been pushing the governors of New York and New Jersey to reverse their decision ordering all medical workers returning from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients to be quarantined, an administration official said on Sunday."

     ... The Washington Post story is here.